This, we are frequently informed, is MONEY; but it is a distortion of one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible. Money itself can be either good or bad, depending on how we get or use it. If we re-visit Paul’s letter to Timothy we will see that his words put the emphasis on the user, not the money.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” ( 1 Timothy 6 : 10 )
Of all inventions money has been a great benefit to the means of trade and exchange. Our ancestors, bartering their goods needed some standard token to represent their value; some societies used coloured beads or special sea-shells, and later, copper, tin or bronze tokens, which to be accepted and trusted would carry an image of the king or emperor. Coins had little intrinsic value of their own until later ages when gold and silver were used, which attracted the crime of “clipping” when people cut off the edges to obtain some of the precious metal, a practice ending when Sir Isaac Newton, Warden of the Mint, introduced milled notched edges to the coins.
In later centuries, for larger sums, paper money came into use; bills of exchange or promissory notes, which evolved into the cheques we use today.
Money has been around for a long time, and has a long Biblical history; we read of Abraham’s slave –
“he that is bought with thy money” – (Genesis 17 : 13)
And his purchase of the field of Machpelah –
“Four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant”(Gen 23:16)
Jesus, in his debate with the priests asks –
“Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it?” (Luke 20:24)
Today, thanks to modern technology we can pay by a card, computer or mobile phone, and daring to offer cash makes one appear pre-historic. More recently with “contactless cards” and internet “bitcoins” emerging one wonders whether cash will eventually become obsolete, leaving only the old system of barter as a back-up.